Museum Fails To Ensure Patron Safety During Renovation


Expert ArchitectThis case involves a 4-year-old child who suffered injuries after falling through a curtain in an art museum. The curtain was put up while the museum was undergoing renovation in one of its wings for a seasonal exhibit. Although there was a sign outside the curtain indicating construction and asking patrons not to enter, there was no security guard on or near the concourse to prevent entry. The 4-year-old child wandered into the exhibition area and knocked over a toolbox suffering lacerations to his arms and legs. It was alleged that the curtain was not properly sectioned off to ensure the safety of all patrons.

Question(s) For Expert Witness

  • 1. Do you have experience designing museums and implementing plans to section off areas that will be under construction and not open to the public?
  • 2. If a curtain is being used to section off an area of the museum, what steps need to be taken to ensure patrons do not enter the area?
  • 3. Are you familiar with the relevant safety codes that museums are required to adhere to?

Expert Witness Response E-015252

I have specialized in code consulting for 30+ years. My career has involved practicing as an architect, serving as a municipal building official, code analyst, and secretary to the board of building appeals, and for the past 31 years as a code consultant on a variety of complex projects. As an architect, a building official, and a code consultant, I’ve worked primarily with fire officials in negotiating barriers between construction zones and occupied areas in buildings. Whether the building is a museum, or some other occupancy, the issues are typically the same. Egress from occupied buildings must be maintained, construction dust and debris must be contained, and the overall level of safety of the building must not be sacrificed. It’s more of a common sense issue, or a standard of ordinary care concern, that is negotiated on a case by case basis rather than a set of written rules and regulations that are applicable to all buildings. My consulting business primarily deals with providing building and accessibility code consulting services for architects or building owners, and I normally have1-3 legal expert cases a year. My museum experience is rather substantial, in addition to performing art centers, arenas/stadiums/ballparks, hospitals, schools, office facilities, hotels/condos, warehouses, historic renovations/restorations, etc.

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